“It started with one simple idea,” celebrity chef Sharone Hakman told Modern Restaurant Management. The “it” he is referring to is Haks, a line of barbecue and cooking sauces he launched five years ago. The “simple idea,” he noted, was to “make good BBQ. From there it has evolved into something much greater.”
The season one MasterChef finalist most recently appeared on “Kocktails with Khloe,” bringing his expertise in small plates and specialty cocktails to the primetime talk show. Hakman’s challenges on MasterChef included feeding barbecue sauce smothered steak to hungry marines and barbecue burgers at a truck stop and led directly to forming a venture to market his creation.
To grow the brand, Hak’s just launched a line of all-natural salad dressings featuring eight varieties: Balsamic, Country Italian, Honey Dijon, Greek, Miso, Olive Oil & Lemon, Sesame Ginger, and Spicy Thai. Packaged in pouches with six single-use packets under 100 calories, the products are non-GMO and gluten-free.
Hakman made the decision to expand the line by introducing salad dressings into the mix because he wanted to make something that had the ability to be in every American’s home.
“Something elevated. A clean ingredient list with bold flavors and quality you can actually trust. It’s a brand that’s relatable, a brand we’re confident in, and a brand you know you will always love because it will be on point and taste great.”
He feels bringing up a brand can be harder at times than working in a restaurant.
“In a restaurant you can really be in the moment when you’re in the kitchen. In this world, your mind is constantly thinking ahead. Product development, promotional spend, logistics, competition, inventory, cash flow. In this world, my competition is Fortune 500 companies, not the restaurants across the street. They have insane marketing budgets. We just keep doing what we do.”
The former financial advisor cites scaling as a key challenge facing restaurateurs.
“It’s such a tricky beast. We all want to grow. It’s the capitalistic nature of business. How to grow with quality first in mind, however, is another thing. Lots of thought and preparation needs to go in to it. It’s not as easy as it seems.”
And Hakman noted that there are similar challenges every day in scaling a brand.
“Small problems turn into big ones, so I always try and tackle them all head on. The challenges of growing are so layered. You overcome one, hit your goal and another one is layered right in there.”
The chefpreneur’s advice to those seeking to follow in his footsteps and create their own brand includes being a fast learner and hard worker.
“Never lose the passion you had when you first started it,” he said. “Hustle every day and in any way. It’s more about doing whatever needs to be done to see results.”
Hak’s products are available at major retailers nationwide and online at haks.